“I believe that all children deserve explicit, systematic, and developmentally appropriate reading instruction. Learning to read unlocks a world of possibilities for children and also creates a basis for equity in our educational systems, which is something I am deeply passionate about.”

Alexandra Wilcox, Reading Interventionist at Mountain Mahogany Community School

Mountain Mahogany Community School (MMCS) is a tuition-free, public K-8 charter school in the North Valley neighborhood of Albuquerque, New Mexico. After being founded in 2004, MMCS reached full capacity for kindergarten through eighth grade in 2013. In 2018, reading scores were down at MMCS, with only 25% of their students being proficient in reading.

When Alexandra Wilcox’s son struggled to read and was eventually diagnosed with dyslexia, she knew that there had to be a better way to support him. She had to pay out of pocket for both her son and daughter to go through a private program, which was really expensive. Knowing that the cost to pay for this help is out of reach for most families – as a birthday gift to herself four years ago – she purchased IMSE training in Orton-Gillingham and began her journey toward the Science of Reading.

How Mountain Mahogany Community School Overcame the Odds

Shortly after Lori Webster joined MMCS in 2018 as director and principal, she knew there were steep hills to climb. When Reading Interventionist Alexandra Wilcox was hired as a Reading Interventionist at Mountain Mahogany in 2019, Webster welcomed her ideas – and together, they encouraged teachers to go through IMSE training.

In 2022, Mountain Mahogany’s New Mexico state assessment scores revealed that 50% of students were proficient in reading, a significant improvement from 4 years before the school began implementing the Orton-Gillingham approach.

Wilcox states, “The feedback from teachers has been really positive – they want to see their students succeed. When they feel like they have the tools to help students become proficient readers, they are thrilled. Teachers are now coming up to me to say they want to go through IMSE’s training.”

She added, “Because our kids now have stronger decoding and fluency skills, it’s easier to know exactly what to work on with each kid. When you have a large percentage of kids who aren’t even decoding accurately, it is that much more difficult to help every struggling reader.”

Today, all K-2 educators, including special education staff, have attended IMSE’s training in the Orton-Gillingham approach. Since the changes, Wilcox has noticed students using skills unpromptedly in and out of the classroom, teachers looking to get on board with IMSE training, and parents expressing excitement about the reading success of their kids.

“We are now a model public school in New Mexico for our efforts with the Science of Reading,” said Wilcox. “I would love for more teachers to understand that this is not just additional work for them, this is in exchange for things that they already teach.”

You can download the full story here to learn how elementary teachers and students at Mountain Mahogany Community School are benefiting from the power behind the Science of Reading.

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